Belfast Telegraph

We'll all pay the price if Northern Ireland politicians fail us

Editor's Viewpoint

It looks as if the Stormont talks will result in another missed deadline today, and we await the decision of Secretary of State James Brokenshire to point a way forward.

People are so fed-up with all our politicians that they now expect very little to come from Stormont.

However, a continued failure to reach agreement will have serious repercussions. We are in receipt of an extra £1bn and there is the expectation that we should spend it wisely.

Local parties will have preferences for the way in which the money is used, but if Stormont does not reassemble they will lack control.

Inevitably, the onset of direct rule, with money being administered by civil servants and London-based ministers, is not the best option for any of us.

We face many pressing issues, including the health service, education, infrastructure and other important topics which require urgent attention. There is also a need to get the best from Brexit, and already the decision by the UK to end the arrangement allowing others to fish in its waters will help our local industry.

If another deadline passes we can again expect an unseemly round of the blame game, although the DUP may have a point in claiming that Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney is "harming" the negotiations.

Certainly, the Irish Government's backing for a stand-alone Irish Language Act here can be seen as an unhelpful intrusion into the current talks.

Many observers find it difficult to understand why an Irish Language Act is such a sticking point, and why the politicians are unable to find an agreement on this.

Many people do not oppose such an Act, but, as in everything else, there needs to be checks and balances on spending, and respect for other cultures.

That would be the overriding view of most of the public, who have indicated time and again that politicians on both sides should show pragmatism and get on with the job.

Given the lack of progress, perhaps it would be best if our politicians took a break and came back with fresh ideas.

The possibilities for agreement are not great, as the politicians' dismal record has shown, but Stormont remains the only show in town and the public urgently needs to see it working again.

Otherwise, the politicians will totally fail us again, and will deserve the utmost blame all round.

Belfast Telegraph


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